How to Register Property Title in Lagos
This short write up basically covers the simple steps a buyer needs to take, after purchasing a property, to register the property in their name. The registration of a property in the name of a new buyer is also known as title perfection. A perfected title is a title that has been registered and has a record of the details of the new owner together with the details of the property in a register of titles.
The register of titles is a register kept by the Registrar of Titles in the Land Registry of any State which shows or has the record of all registered owners of properties in that State. A search of the register is usually done by prospective buyers (buyers often retain the services of lawyers to do this) or any interested member of the public, to ascertain or verify the ownership and genuineness of a claim to property ownership. It also reflects the records of pending charges on encumbrance on any registered title. A special register also kept of all such pending charges and their status is known as register of charges or register of encumbrances.
In Lagos State, there are two land registries where a register of titles can be found. The first one is the State land registry currently located at the State Capital in Alausa, Ikeja. The second place is the Federal Land Registry where the register of the titles of federal properties is kept. It is currently located at Ribadu in Ikoyi.
What is a property title?
Simply put, a property title is the proof of ownership of a property. It is the means through which a property owner can show to any person that he is the owner of the property. For more details on the meaning and types of title, see my write up on meaning and types of property titles in Lagos State.
Do all Property Titles Need Registration?
Generally speaking, all transactional transfers of titles to land need to be registered to legally document or create a public record of such transfer. It is a requirement of the law.
What is however common is that upon the purchase of a property by a buyer, and especially after purchase documents have been exchanged, the buyer tucks the documents away in a safe place and does not take any further step. This should not ordinarily be the case. Further steps should be taken to ensure that the title is registered. Property owners often give reasons why they think registration of title is not needed. One common reason for buyers not wanting to register is that it involves paying out a lot of money to both lawyers and the State Government. Another reason is that it also takes a lot of time to register. Both reasons are not good enough to abandon the registration totally. One other common reason is ignorance. Some property owners still do not know that registration of their title is a legal requirement.
A common reason why property owners also do not take the trouble to register their title is that the property purchase itself is done as a short term investment. They are in for the short run. They therefore see no reason why they should incur the additional expense and be tied down by the often unwieldy duration it takes to register. This is so especially if they will be offloading their investment long before the time it will take to register their title.
One very important reason why you should register your title is that it is legally required. Another good reason to register your title is that it generally puts every other person in the world on notice that you are the bona fide owner of the property. Also, if you want to do any transaction on the property, the other party can easily verify by a search at the land registry that you are the registered owner. One other good reason to register is that a registered title is preferred by financial institutions as security for a loan. There are several other good reasons for a property owner to register their title. The advantages far outweigh the cost or disadvantages.
Best time to start the registration of Property Title
According to a popular Chinese saying, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. The registration of your property title should start immediately after the purchase. If however you have not done so until now, you should begin the process immediately or as soon as possible.
Step by Step approach to registering title in Lagos State
Although the stage by stage procedure for a new registration of title may change from time to time as a result of a change in government policy or update to registration procedure, the following steps would ordinarily be taken and documents submitted to commence and complete a new title registration, namely:
Documents Required for Registration
- Duly completed Form 1C with Oath (Application for Approval of a Subsequent Transaction).
- Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Root of Title.
- Deeds/Instrument of Transfer (3 Nos.), with chartable survey plans annexed.
- Passport photographs (4 Nos.) of the Assignee (if individual and not a company).
- Certificate of Incorporation/Registration for corporate/ registered bodies (assignee only).
- Site photograph with date and time.
- Site location sketch.
- Receipt for N10, 500 (Ten Thousand Five Hundred Naira Only) (covers charting, endorsement and Form 1c).
- Applicant’s/Agent’s means of identification.
- Covering letter with functional telephone line(s) and email address(es)
Step by Step work flow to Registration/Governor’s Consent in Lagos State
- Submission of application (with attached documents) in the Land Services Directorate.
- Vetting and compilation for charting:
- Private Land: Surveyor General’s Office
- State Land: Confirmation against revocation of statutory right of occupancy (SRO) at Land Services.
- Assessment for consent charges. This is based on location and applicable fair market value (FMV) as compiled and published in the applicable Lagos State Official Gazette. According to the Lagos State Official Gazette No. 10 Vol. 48 dated the 5th day of February 2015, the aggregate assessment is 3% of the determined value of the land. This 3% is broken down as follows, excluding Neighborhood Improvement Charges (NIC):
- Consent Fee: 1.5% of Assessed Value
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT): 0.5% of Assessed Value
- Registration Fee: 0.5% of Assessed Value.
- Neighborhood Improvement Charges applicable to private and excised lands and assessed according to the size of the land at N2 (Two Naira Only) per square metre multiplied by the number of years of the relevant title.
- For mortgage transactions, assessment is based on the mortgage loan as follows:
- Consent fee is charges at N2500/N1, 000,000.00 (This is 0.0025% for each million).
- Registration fee is at N5,000/N1,000,000.00 (This is 0.005% for each million)
- For gift transactions, beneficiaries/applicants are exempted from payment of CGT.
- For consent applications, except mortgages, the Directorate may call for joint site inspection.
- Tax Assessment is the next stage at the Lagos State Internal Revenue Services (LIRS) office at the Directorate of Land Services.
- After tax assessment, the next stage is the payment of the above consent charges at the designated bank.
- Then there is the confirmation of receipts and submission for the execution of the deeds/instruments of transfer.
- Then there is the movement of the files to delegated Commissioners, enroute the Permanent Secretary of Land’s Office.
- Executed Deeds are then forwarded back to the Lands Registry Directorate (LRD) from Land Services.
- Thereafter there is the Stamping of the Deeds, then there is the clearance from the LIRS that required payments have been made.
- The registered Deeds/instruments are then forwarded back to Land Services for uploading unto the electronic register. A counterpart of the physical documents is also kept in a file at the Land Registry/Services.
- The letter conveying approval of consent application is then prepared by the Director of Land Services to the Applicant/Owner.
- The registered Deed/Instrument is thereafter released from the Consent Registry of the Directorate of Land Services.
Facilitators/Agents at the land Registry: Use or Not?
An applicant may opt to do all of the above by themselves or use the services of a lawyer to get them done. Also, there are informal, unofficial facilitators often used by the applicant directly or by their lawyers. These facilitators are the ones that follow up on the movement of the files from one office to another during the process of the registration. These facilitators are either members of the staff of the Directorate of Land Services or some members of the public who loiter around the offices of the Directorate of Land Services and who are connected to or know their way around the offices of the Directorate of Land Services and promise to help hasten the processes of registration at a fee which is negotiated with them. Although there are bold public notices in the offices of the Directorate of Land Services advising against the use of these facilitators, the system and the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the offices of the Directorate of Land Services makes it doubly hard to quickly complete the registration processes without using these facilitators. However, the note of warning to sound here is that these facilitators are used at the peril of the applicant since the applicant cannot hold the Directorate of Land Services responsible if anything goes wrong in the process.
In conclusion, while the processes of registration of title in Lagos State might seem cumbersome, slow, and costly, it is still advisable for a property owner to register their title as the benefit far outweighs the drawbacks over the long run.